The U.S. recession and stock market sell-off of 2007-09 was a brutal time to be an investor. It officially began in October 2007, and by the time the carnage was over in March 2009, the S&P 500 index had lost 56.4% of its value. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a 12-year low of 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009. Along the way, many of the most famous names in the stock market had lost more than half their value.
But as always, in the midst of misfortune often comes opportunity. Investors who bought stocks at the low point in 2009 have largely been rewarded, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average itself surging back to 27,875.62 — a rise of more than four-fold since it cratered more than a decade ago. Here’s a look at how select stocks have performed since the days of that market low back in March 2009 so you can see how much $1,000 invested in them would be worth today.
Last updated: Dec. 5, 2019
Netflix (NFLX): $56,450.91
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $5.50
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $310.48
Netflix has struggled as of late, trading more than 25% below the all-time high it set in June 2018. Still, if you had jumped into the stock back in March 2009 with $1,000, you’d have a net gain of more than $55,000 as of Nov. 22, 2019. Ten years ago, Netflix was just beginning its transition from a simple mail-order DVD provider to the streaming and studio behemoth it is today. Although there have been some bumps over the past decade, the return for patient investors has been huge.
Amazon (AMZN): $28,859.65
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $60.49
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $1,745.72
Want to know how to be the richest man in the world? Well, it helps to be the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world — like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Although Bezos recently lost the “wealthiest person” title to Bill Gates, he’s hardly hurting with a net worth of about $109 billion. If you’d bought Amazon stock at its March 9, 2009, price, you’d have earned nearly 30 times your investment by November 2019.
AT&T (T): $1,738.03
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $21.72
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $37.75
AT&T has a reputation as a conservative stock, one that used to garner the moniker “widow and orphan” due to its slow and steady growth and 35 consecutive years of quarterly dividend gains. “Slow and steady” is an apt description of AT&T’s stock performance since 2009, considering the price has only gained about 74% over the past 10-plus years even in a prolonged bull market. However, some analysts expect a much faster growth rate for AT&T in the future due in part to a new $3.2 billion investment by activist investor Elliott Management.
Ford (F): $5,109.19
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $1.74
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $8.89
The financial crisis that swept through global markets in 2008-09 put General Motors, Ford and Chrysler on the brink of insolvency. General Motors actually did file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but Ford never did, thanks in part to its divestiture of Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. Still, the company’s stock traded below $2 in March 2009, and its prospects were dim. Since then, patient Ford investors have been rewarded with a five-fold return on their money.
Apple (AAPL): $22,053.92
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $11.87
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $261.78
As of late 2019, Apple is in a back-and-forth battle with Microsoft for the title of largest market cap in the world. That was far from the case back in 2009 when Apple traded like any other sluggish, generic stock. Since then, Apple shares have surged steadily higher and currently trade near their all-time high.
Bank of America (BAC): $8,848.00
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $3.75
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $33.18
Bank of America played a very large and public role during the financial meltdown of 2008-09. In January 2009, the company took a $20 billion bailout from the U.S. government along with a staggering $100 billion guarantee against loan losses. This was on top of the $25 billion that Bank of America got from the infamous government TARP program in October 2008. Blessed with this backing — and the shot in the arm it gave financially — the company’s stock has gained nearly 800% since March 9, 2009.
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Intel (INTC): $4,590.44
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $12.55
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $57.61
Intel suffered along with the rest of the stock market in 2009, but that blow wasn’t as big as the one the stock took when the dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century. Intel shares peaked at around $75 during the summer of 2000 and haven’t reached those highs since. Still, investors who were prescient enough to pick up shares in 2009 have seen gains of over 350%.
Align Technology (ALGN): $43,555.56
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $6.30
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $274.40
Who was buying invisible braces back in 2009? Not nearly as many people as today. Align Technology is the company behind the Invisalign “clear aligners” product that is an alternative for braces. Although the stock suffered during the recession of 2008-09, it was still higher than it was way back in 2001. Investors who bet Align would skyrocket over the past decade have been heavily rewarded, with the stock posting one of the biggest gains on Wall Street during that time span.
Microsoft (MSFT): $9,873.93
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $15.15
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $149.59
Like most tech stocks, Microsoft took a big hit at the turn of the century when the dot-com bubble burst. Unlike many of its peers, however, the software giant went on to establish new all-time highs in impressive fashion. Since the market drawdown in 2009 — when Microsoft saw its lowest prices in more than a decade — its stock has been on a strong and steady uptrend, continually setting new highs. These gains have helped propel former CEO Bill Gates to the title of the wealthiest person in the world, having recently surpassed Jeff Bezos.
Alphabet (GOOGL): $8,885.71
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $145.59
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $1,293.67
By March 2009, Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google, had already begun to recover from multiyear lows. While suffering through the occasional pullback, Alphabet had powered to all-time highs as of late 2019. Investors who jumped aboard back in 2009 have been rewarded with a nearly 800% increase in the stock. Analysts see further gains ahead, with a consensus rating of “strong buy” and an average price target of $1,458.87.
Pier 1 Imports (PIR): $2,486.67
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $3.00
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $7.46
Pier 1 Imports spent much of the 2008-09 economic meltdown warding off bankruptcy and trading below $1 per share. Since then the stock has had its share of boom and bust periods, trading above $23 per share in June 2013 and falling back below $1 in early 2019, when bankruptcy rumors dogged the retailer yet again. But Pier 1’s stock has bounced back in recent months, reaching its highest point in more than four years in September 2019. Those who bought the stock in March 2009 have seen their investments more than double.
United Airlines Holdings (UAL): $23,901.04
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $3.84
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $91.78
The stock performance of United Airlines was fairly predictable during the recession of 2008-09. Because the airline industry is so heavily reliant on business travel and discretionary spending — both of which decline during a recession — it’s no surprise that United’s stock price fell dramatically, from a peak above $50 per share in late 2007 to the low single digits by early 2009. Since then, however, shares have soared much higher at the airline, which merged with Continental in October 2010. Investors buying during United’s bleakest times have been rewarded with nearly 24 times their original investments.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS): $43,169.01
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $1.42
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $61.30
Las Vegas Sands is a casino operator that owns some of the most famous names in the business, including the Venetian and Palazzo hotel/casinos in Las Vegas, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the Sands Macao and the Parisian Macao. The company suffered through a truly awful 18 months from late 2007 through early 2009, with its stock price dropping from nearly $150 per share down to the low single digits. Shares of Las Vegas Sands still haven’t come close to their all-time high, but investors who were smart enough to buy on March 9, 2009, have seen their investments rise more than 43-fold.
Xerox (XRX): $3,554.14
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $10.99
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $39.06
After more than a century in business, Xerox has evolved from a copier company to a provider of numerous business and digital printing solutions — a shift that has helped keep the company afloat even though the stock’s glory days have long since passed. After peaking above $230 during the dot-com bubble, the stock cratered in 1999 and 2000 and again in 2008-09. On the bright side, investors who bought Xerox shares in March 2009 have seen their money more than triple.
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG): $15,745.06
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $49.07
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $772.61
Chipotle has been a wild ride for investors over the years. The stock suffered a tremendous slide from 2007 into late 2008 before recovering in dramatic fashion, with Chipotle shares running up more than 15-fold to their 2015 highs. The stock tanked again soon after on reports that customers at many of its restaurants were sickened with foodborne illnesses, including cases of E. coli contamination. Chipotle shares fell more than 175% between July 2015 and February 2018. Since then, the stock has come roaring back to new highs, giving those who bought in on March 9, 2009, a return of nearly 1,500%.
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Target (TGT): $5,006.70
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $25.37
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $127.02
Target is another company that was hurt by the economic recession of 2009, with the stock trading at multiyear lows amid concerns that the spending power of Americans had reached crisis levels. But Target has proven resilient in the face of competition from online retailers such as Amazon and big-box behemoths like Walmart, trading to new all-time highs in November 2019 on the back of an earnings report that came in well above expectations. Investors buying Target shares on March 9, 2009, have enjoyed a more than five-fold rise in their investments.
Walmart (WMT): $2,512.31
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $47.51
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $119.36
Walmart hasn’t performed quite as well as competitor Target over the past decade, but the world’s retail chain has still rewarded investors with a stock price that has risen more than 150% since March 9, 2009. The stock actually held up pretty well during the 2008-09 market sell-off, but it didn’t recover quickly, either, essentially trading sideways from 1999 to the first half of 2012. Since then, however, Walmart’s shares have pushed higher and hit a new all-time high in 2019. Those who stayed with the stock since March 9, 2009, have more than doubled their investments.
American International Group (AIG): $7,614.29
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $7.00
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $53.30
AIG was right at the center of the storm during the financial crisis and recession of 2008-09. The company lost nearly $100 billion in 2008 and the U.S. government had to step in and bail it out to the tune of an 80% ownership stake. In a desperate effort to save its stock price, AIG underwent a 1-for-20 reverse stock split. Thanks to that reverse split, the company’s shares might never reach the old all-time highs of more than $2,000 per share way back in 2000. Even so, AIG shares have shown substantial gains since March 2009.
Manitowoc (MTW): $7,168.89
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $2.25
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $16.13
Manitowoc manufactures farm, foodservice and heavy construction equipment, which means it operates in a cyclical business. When the economy booms, Manitowoc tends to do well. In a recession, however, the stock usually hits hard times. Manitowoc felt the pain in 2008-09 when its share price tumbled to the low single digits. Despite tremendous ups and downs in the years since, investors buying on March 9, 2009, have received a more than seven-fold return on their investments.
General Electric (GE): $1,619.92
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $7.13
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $11.55
General Electric has a long and storied history that includes being one of the original members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average way back in 1896. However, the company has endured hard times for nearly two decades now. In August 2000, GE’s stock set an all-time high of $60 per share, after which it bounced up and down until cratering in 2009. GE recovered nicely from that low until 2016, when its stock once again reversed course before dropping into the single digits in late 2018. Although GE shares currently trade above their March 2009 low, the gain has been minimal despite a long bull market.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): $2,969.49
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $19.01
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $56.45
As one of the world’s largest drugmakers, Bristol-Myers Squibb is another company with a reputation for being a “defensive” stock in times of trouble. Indeed, in the 2008-09 market sell-off, BMY did hold up fairly well compared with many others. In fact, the stock was essentially stuck in a broad trading range from 2002 all the way through 2011. Although shares of Bristol Myers-Squibb remain below their all-time high set in 1999, investors who bought the stock on March 9, 2009, have earned nearly triple their original investments.
Macy's (M): $2,269.12
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $6.80
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $15.43
Macy’s saw its stock trade to near-bankruptcy levels during the recession of 2008-09. The prolonged economic drawdown hurt Macy’s profits enough that it was forced to cut 7,000 jobs in February 2009, right as its shares were trading near multiyear lows. A sharp recovery rocketed the stock back above $72 per share by 2015, but Macy’s has since fallen on hard times yet again as it struggles to reach its sales targets.
Wells Fargo (WFC): $5,444.33
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $9.97
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $54.28
Like its peers in the financial services industry, Wells Fargo was at the center of the storm during the 2008-09 recession. Its stock took a huge tumble, falling to lows not seen since 1996. But Wells Fargo was never on the brink of insolvency — unlike other prominent banks. In fact, the $25 billion Wells Fargo was handed during the 2009 government bailout was fully repaid by the end of the year, plus dividends. Wells Fargo has gone through its own share of troubles since then, including a fake account-opening scandal in 2016. Still, the stock has risen more than five-fold since March 9, 2009.
Cisco Systems (CSCO): $3,292.95
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $13.62
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $44.85
Cisco Systems is another tech darling that had an impressive run from 2009 to 2019 but still sits far below its turn-of-the-century high. Investors who bought Cisco on March 9, 2009, and have held onto the stock are likely happy with the roughly 230% gain they’ve gotten from it, but those who bought all the way back in 2000 are still licking their wounds. Cisco’s stock peaked at above $80 per share that year, meaning shares will need to nearly double just to return to their all-time high.
Coca-Cola (KO): $2,736.33
- Share price on March 9, 2009: $19.38
- Share price on Nov. 22, 2019: $53.03
Coca-Cola is often dismissed as an unexciting “defensive” stock that faces an uphill battle in a world that’s turning away from sugary sodas. In reality, the company is an incredible survivor, adapting to market trends in a way that both defends and expands its powerful name. It still ranks as the 14th-most-valuable brand in the world, according to BrandZ. Coca-Cola has begun shifting toward zero-sugar brands and smaller can sizes in a successful bid to retain and attract customers. Its share price has been in a well-defined uptrend over the last decade, returning about 174% to investors since March 9, 2009.
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About the Author
After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.